I spent today at the National Library of Australia hoping to hear some of the recordings of Colin made in the 1970s. I found one recording from the Port Jackson Folk festival in 1970 and two recordings in the Mike Eves collection.
From this Mudcat post it appears that Mike passed away in the US in 2009, but his family must have handed his recordings over to the National Library. Sad to say that from several internet posts it looks like Mike got mixed up with Scientology in the US.
The 90 minute long recording of the Song Workshop at Port Jackson festival in 1970 included more blues and experimental psychedelic-rock style music than I was expecting, mixed in with some beautiful Irish tunes and folk ballads. Most valuable to me was listening to Colin speak between performers.
Colin spoke knowledgeably about the global folk music scene and offered his frustration at musical ‘gate-keeping’ in the community; traditionalists that look down on the ‘new’ music and extreme modernists who reject the old.
About 60 minutes into the workshop there is a beautiful Gaelic ballad sung by someone whose name I couldn’t make out in the recording.
It took a few hours to get the other two recordings, one of Colin in the studio and another set of Colin singing unaccompanied, both recorded by Mike Eves. I ended up spending close to 6 hours at the Library as when the copy of one of the CD’s arrived it had failed to burn. The library staff were very helpful and re-burnt the CD.
The studio recording is probably as close as Colin came to making an LP. It features an autoharp and a significant amount of rubbery double-bass and improvised flute (a la Jethro Tull). The session is dated 1973-1974, so would have been a few years after Colin’s work with Extradition and Tully on Sea of Joy. To my ear, it sounded like an attempt to break through into the progressive/psychedelic/acid rock that was emerging in Australia. There was not much in the way of folk influence, except for a rambling 7 minute version of Scarborough Fair. Maybe it would have done well at the time, but to my ear the style did not play to Colin’s strengths. The recording reminded me of Phil Och’s, Pleasures of the Harbor, in it’s attempt to change focus in order to capture the mainstream market.
The second Mike Eves recording was a goldmine for me. This recording had Colin singing all of the songs mentioned at the end of my previous post. The recording quality is quite good and will provide a reference to, hopefully, do a reasonable recording in the same style.
I have almost finished the album cover (just need to make him look less like Lionel Richie), and set the painting process to my best attempt at a Blues version of the Ryebuck Shearer. Thanks to Hrothgar on Mudcat who mentioned that Colin had done a blues version on this thread.
Searches online have failed to turn up evidence of Colin playing at other locations around Australia, though several people have confirmed he was in Perth at some point.
For the next few weeks I’ll be busy preparing for a performance at Duke’s Place in Sydney on May 10, and letting Colin’s treatment of the remaining 6 songs marinate before trying to record them.
Many thanks to the several folks who have contributed stories and suggestions on this Mudcat thread and others who have contacted me directly.